Photodynamic therapy (PDT) can be used to treat certain retinal conditions, including central serous chorioretinopathy (CSCR), wet macular degeneration, and certain tumors in the back of the eye.
PDT treatment is performed in the office, and it takes about 20 minutes. A light-sensitive molecule called verteporfin (Visudyne) is injected into a peripheral vein, usually in the arm. The molecule travels to the vessels in the back of the eye. A laser light is then shone into the back of the eye using a contact lens which activates the molecule at a specified location. The patient will notice a bright light when the laser is applied. However, the laser is not painful. The effects of PDT are often slow, and patients may not experience visual improvement or stabilization for a couple months after therapy.
After the treatment, the patient’s skin and eyes may be sensitive to light for a week. Patients are encouraged to avoid direct sunlight for one week and wear sunglasses when outdoors.
Risks of PDT include visual disturbances and rarely vision loss. There can also be discomfort and swelling at the site of injection. Sunburn may also occur in patients are not careful to avoid direct sunlight after therapy.